Gaps in Modern Medicine: Why Holism is Needed
Indigenous medicines and treatment methods are showing to be greatly effective with mental health disease across the board, especially with substance abuse. Their holistic methods hold further implications for treating psychosomatic and chronic physical disease because are often the side effect of long-term mental health issues. The holistic model can be an additional layer to all medical practices as it can be an inclusive and a more coherent treatment when treating a whole person. All humans have multi-dimensional aspects to their healing, so even if they come for a strictly medical procedure it would be helpful to apply a comprehensive perspective.
Modern medicine is effective and should not be eliminated, but we have to acknowledge that a large percentage of patients feel cheated when they are discriminated against for such things as drugs use, trying for natural birth, having non-diagnosable pathology, or anytime they do not fit with the conventional paradigm or established framework. There has been some progressive movement such as LGBT issues becoming more integrated in the hospital setting, but there is still a lot of work to do.
Holistic is defined by the whole of all the parts, so nothing is left out. It's an integrative model of looking at the entire system and how it operates and it’s interconnections. So called traditional medicine would see treating the body as fixing a car, working on one isolated part and neglecting to understand how the systems impact each other. The holistic approach, on the other hand, would employ a multi-disciplinary clinical team that works with the whole person and coordinates care respective to the various systems that are impacted, including mental heath, physical health, nutrition, cultural aspects, and even spirituality if appropriate. There are still lots of gaps and blind spots in modern medicine and a good example of this is that nutrition is still not fully taught in medical school.
No matter how seemingly physiological a person’s disease may appear, there are always consequential mental and emotional components of their suffering. Furthermore, some disease actually originate from long standing stress or chronic hyper vigilance that activate stress hormones that overtime degrade the bodies immune system and lead to physical disease. These aspects are thoroughly covered in the holistic model. Modern medicine would benefit from working hand in hand with wisdom traditions and their knowledge of human suffering.
I don't mean that the medical model should not exist, rather that it should learn from the wisdom of holism. The entire medical method is predicated on the idea that you can dismember a patient and fight their symptoms. The problem is that it fails to see that negative symptoms are merely the guidance of the body that is trying to inform the person of a deeper-rooted disease. Any medical model can be naturally enhanced by the holistic principles that teach inclusion, compassion towards drugs and other forms of addiction, and does not reduce or talk people out of being self determined in their quest for healing. Too many patients are not give thorough explanations about the underlying causes of their disease and are give medications or treatments that separate them form their own ability to fully participate and find meaning in their healing journey.